Cardiac Ward Operations Manager, Pearl Kekana found her way into paediatric cardiology thanks to a personal calling versus a professional one. Nothing brings her more joy than to see a happy, healthy child.
It all began when she was a student nurse working with premature babies. “It was there and then that I knew I wanted to be in paediatrics,” she says.
While working in a private hospital, Kekana treated children before and after their cardiac surgery. She developed an interest in cardiac surgery after seeing the almost instant effects of surgical intervention.
“I would see the patients before surgery and after surgery so I was very curious to see what happened in the interim.
“A child would be admitted into the unit turning blue in colour and after surgery the child would be healthy and pink. Where the mother would actually tell you, I’ve never seen my child look like that,” she says.
Kekana completed a cardiothoracic course as well as a critical care course and worked for more than 13 years as an ICU nurse.
Having worked in the medical field for more than 20 years, Kekana is acutely aware of the pressing need for cardiac treatment for South African children.
“Many children are on long waiting lists for life-changing surgeries, but the opening of NMCH has helped alleviate this pressure. There’s a role for each of us to play in helping turn the situation around.”
Kekana stresses the importance of the public donating to the critical cause of the NMCH Heart Centre.
“The public can take initiative to run fundraisers in their communities including bake sales, second-hand clothing sales and other projects,” she says.
It’s exactly this kind of financial assistance that helped a 3-year-old girl from Zeerust get the surgery she needed.
“She suffered from a condition that made her fingertips and lips blue when exerting a high amount of energy, like when she was playing. The little girl underwent a palliative procedure to improve her circulation and give her a better quality of life,” Kekana says.
Kekana hopes people will continue to donate and support more children to receive the life-changing treatment available at NMCH.
“I would like to see us doing even more than what Mandela has done. We must carry on from where he left off,” Kekana says.
If you’re interested in making a difference in the lives of children in need of cardiac care by raising funds, please contact Rebe on Rebe.Mangope@nmch.org.za.